'Put her down': Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer gets death threats for not easing stay-at-home orders
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is one of those politicians whose name has made the headlines frequently in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic. From taking on the Donald Trump administration over the federal response to her state’s crisis to backing fellow Democrat Joe Biden against the rape accusation by one of his former aides, the 48-year-old Whitmer has done it all.
Her strong stand in supporting the lockdown in the Wolverine State has also been another reason that has earned her the spotlight even though the battle has not been easy for her.
The first-time governor has faced several threats, including death, posed by the angry and frustrated residents of the state on social media platforms like Facebook ahead of a scheduled armed rally in Lansing on Thursday. Detroit Metro Times has gained access to four private Facebook groups that have a combined membership of 400,000 seeking to instigate violence against Whitmer and defy her social-distancing orders. There was also call for Whitmer’s assassination as one angry resident wrote in one of those groups: “Can we please just take up a collection for an assassin to put that woman from Michigan down.”
“Plain and simple she needs to eat lead and send a statement to the rest of the democrats that they are next,” wrote another. “I wish someone would take her out permanently,” said a third post.
Gretchen unmoved despite threats
Gretchen, however, put up a strong face suggesting that she was not going to backtrack. At a press conference on Monday, May 11, she instead claimed that her administration’s policies were working as people were staying at home.
According to Metro Times which called the hateful posts to be contradictory to the social media giant’s online policies. Facebook removed one of the groups called Michigan United for Liber on grounds of violating its policy against inciting violence. The group organized a rally at the Capitol in April.
The threats against Whitmer also come days after she expressed support of banning weapons inside the state Capitol after angry protesters demonstrated against the lockdown restrictions and stormed the Capitol building on April 30 after she decided to extend the stay-at-home rule.
A number of Democratic governors across the country have spoken against the reopening of the economy as over a million people have been infected by the deadly virus and more than 80,000 lives have been lost. President Donald Trump, however, has spoken in favor of lifting the restrictions time and again particularly because it has taken a heavy toll on the economy -- a key factor ahead of the November 3 election this year. He even gave a call for liberating the states.
Whitmer was not worried by the April demonstration and said in an interview to NBC News that lawmakers should not feel threatened when they come to work during the pandemic. “There are legislators who are wearing bulletproof vests to go to work,” she said last Wednesday, May 6.
“No one should be intimidated by someone who’s bringing in an assault rifle into their workplace. And so there is conversation about changing that law,” she added.
The Owosso barber who has Michigan Militia's support
A 77-year-old baber in the state town of Owosso has emerged as a symbol of the defiance against Whitmer. For six days, Karl Manke has been defying the governor’s orders to open his shop and he has found big support for his action. Dozens have been gathering outside Manke’s ship to show their solidarity. On Saturday, May 9, more than 15 customers queued up outside Manke’s shop to get haircuts.
The veteran has got two citations from the police so far for violating the executive order but members of Michigan Militia have warned that they will take action to stop Manke from going to jail.
Whitmer was asked about the barber on Monday and she said: “I also know a lot of people who could use a haircut, yours truly included as well as my husband. ... I expect people to follow the law. These executive orders are not a suggestion. They're not optional. They're not helpful hints.”
Manke’s advocate Dave Kallman said the state went too far. “If you can walk down the aisles at Walmart, you can walk down the aisles in Karl's barber shop and practice the same physical distancing, hand-washing, all the things we've been hearing on and on,” Associated Press quoted him as saying. The report also said Manke pledging that he is going to stay open till Jesus arrives.
Trump won Michigan by a wafer-thin margin of 0.23 percent in the 2016 presidential election after the Democrats won it consecutively between 1992 and 2012.